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Paul Thurrott Bitten by WGA 591

suntory writes "Paul Thurrott, one of the most important Microsoft advocates, has been bitten by Windows Genuine Advantage. As some Slashdot users have reported, Paul installed a bunch of updates in his machine and now Microsoft thinks that he is using pirated software." From the post: "Truthfully, I can only imagine what triggered these alerts. The software was installed to a VM a long time ago and archived on my server. I no doubt used a copy of XP MCE 2005 that I had received as part of my MSDN subscription. If the WGA alerts are to be believed, it's possible that Microsoft thinks I've installed this software on too many machines, though that seems unlikely to me. I can't really say. Anyway, that's what it looks like to be a suspected pirate. Like many people who will see these alerts, I don't believe I did anything wrong. I'm sure that's going to be a common refrain in this new era of untrusting software and companies. Ah well."
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Paul Thurrott Bitten by WGA

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:44AM (#15756239)
    The acceptable face of spyware

    Dear Bill:

    The following argument is so old it should probably be modded redundant, but given Steve's mental faculties [], perhaps it bears repeating.

    1 - Pirates will not be hurt by this as they have corporate keys, etc
    2 - Genuine customers will be annoyed by this
    3- Therefore this makes no sense

    By presupposing your customers are dishonest Microsoft creates tremendous ill-will. This would, of course, normally be a bad thing. Worse - they have that nice monopoly so it doesn't really matter. This causes unhappiness and resentment, even amongst ridiculous Redmond fanbois like Paul Thurrott and Ed Bott.

    So, my friends, there is only one way out. If we want to be happy [], Windows must be kill -9'd [].
    • by joshier ( 957448 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:47AM (#15756272)
      I think this is just brilliant... seriously.. Every time I hear legiment users of windows getting p***** off, or angry because their windows won't work, or that they can't install patch updates because they've installed new hardware, it really lightens up my day.

      No, I don't revel in customers unsatisfactory, it bugs me, but I do laugh at how microsoft is loosing popularity and a user base extremely fast due to this.

      Ubuntu, Here we come!

      p.s. Ubuntu has released a version today based on the 2.6.17 kernel, and that kernel includes many new supported wireless cards, one of which I have in my laptop (broadcom 4308)
      • Please, I've tried Linux on the desktop, its no where close to 'being there' as an average user desktop OS. Especially if you're a gamer.
        • by arose ( 644256 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:21AM (#15756540)
          I've seen many atempts to bend the "average user" into one or another direction in order to support ones position (no wonder with such a non-term), but this one borders on the absurd.
          • by theonetruekeebler ( 60888 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:50AM (#15757347) Homepage Journal
            Back in the 1980s, Yosemite National Park was having a serious problem with bears: They would wander into campgrounds and break into the garbage bins. This put both bears and people at risk. So the Park Service started installing armored garbage cans that were tricky to open -- you had to swing a latch, align two bits of handle, that sort of thing. But it turns out it's actually quite tricky to get the design of these cans just right. Make it too complex and people can't get them open to put away their garbage in the first place. Said one park ranger, "There is considerable overlap between the intelligence of the smartest bears and the dumbest tourists."

            I've forgotten why I mentioned this, but it had to do with the considerable overlap between our individual opinions of an "average user."

        • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:57AM (#15756857)
          It's more like "mainly if you're a gamer."

          The vast majority of people out there are not doing anything remotely "important" with their computers, and most are just surfing and emailing and chatting an so forth. In other words, no difference.

          I run Windows at home, but then I play a lot of games, and like most people when it's my leisure time I don't want to spend half of it getting Linux to play a game I can "just play" on Windows.

          I would argue it's almost exclusively gamers who need to suffer Windows.
          • by koreth ( 409849 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @02:05PM (#15758586)
            I have to call bullshit on this one. The areas in which Windows is better than Linux for a nontechnical user are a lot more numerous than just games. I know this firsthand: I tried to replace XP with Ubuntu on my girlfriend's laptop about six months ago and ended up giving up after a week of screwing with it. (And I am not a nontechnical user.) She does not play any games on her laptop. Here's what I spent that week trying to get working:
            • Asian input methods. My girlfriend is from Taiwan and sends email to her friends back home, but she primarily wants her computer to be English-language. In Windows, getting Chinese input to work on an English install of the OS takes, oh, roughly 90 seconds or so of clicking around in the control panel UI, and once enabled it works perfectly in virtually every common modern desktop application. Linux, not so much -- please edit your X configuration, please do one thing if you're running GNOME and something else if you're running KDE, oh, and by the way, don't expect to be able to enter Chinese characters when you run an app since most of them either don't handle alternate input methods at all or are only compatible with the input system you aren't using. (I am not blowing smoke on this -- Mark Shuttleworth specifically mentioned lousy Asian input support as one of the reasons he wanted to delay the next Ubuntu release.)
            • Media playing. Bitch all you want about how it's the fault of patents or closed formats from evil companies, the fact of the matter is that you can browse the web on a Windows machine and expect to be able to watch most of the video you come across, and listen to most of the music you come across. Linux? Well, if you're willing to violate the law, and you happen to know how to configure your system to install packages from nonstandard repositories, you can hack together support for some of the common formats. Not all of them, but hey, you didn't really want to watch that movie preview, did you?
            • Device support. Just try hooking up, say, a Canon scanner (I have one; it works fine on my Mac and my Windows boxes, but it's a doorstop when I'm running Linux.) Again, is this the fault of Linux per se? Maybe not. As a nontechnical user do I care whose fault it is when I want to scan something I could scan when I was running Windows? Nope.
            • Fonts. The ones that come with all the Linux distros I've tried are clunky, and they vary in size between font families in odd ways that make a lot of Web pages look funny. Yep, I know all about the Microsoft Core Fonts package. It is not installed by default. It is not in the default repositories on a new system. If I am a nontechnical user it is therefore nigh-irrelevant.
            Okay, that's probably enough. The point is that there's more wrong than just games. I completely agree that if all you want to do is read simple HTML email and visit non-multimedia web sites, you don't want to listen to music or watch DVDs, you don't have any devices other than a keyboard, mouse and monitor, you only want to input text in one language, and you never need to trade Word documents or Excel spreadsheets with someone who cares what the formatting looks like, then Linux on the desktop is definitely ready for your nontechnical-user needs!
        • by MadJo ( 674225 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:58AM (#15756863) Homepage Journal
          In response to the parent post:

          Linux is ready for the desktop... it is the wrong question to ask...
          The real question is, "Is Linux ready for you?"

          And Linux still has quite a lot to offer gamers, it just depends on what your demands are.

          From the top of my head, a few native Linux games:
          - Quake (1 through 4)
          - UT (99, 2k3, 2k4)
          - W:ET
          - Sauerkraut / Cube 2
          - Warsow
          - Legends

          - Freeciv
          - Savage (1 and the soon to be released 2)
          - Darwinia

          Well the list goes on, and it quite extensive (not all are Tetris-clones).
          And you can run games in Wine or in Cedega.

          But the question you should ask yourself is, 'Is Linux ready for me?'
          If the answer to that question is "no", then indeed Linux is not ready for YOUR desktop.
        • by EsbenMoseHansen ( 731150 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:06AM (#15756938) Homepage

          Yet I and my wife use it daily. I did nothing the average user couldn't do. We don't have many games, but then, we only play atitd really.

          The hardest part was downloading and installing the game, or maybe burning the CD for the installation of Kubuntu.

          I am, on the other hand, unable to install windows (XP). Since my wife's internet banking no longer needs windows, I luckily don't need it anymore.

          But if you want the broad selection of games windows offer, there is no way around WGA, the cost, the upgrades, and the hopeless install. So for that group, windows (or PS3/Xbox/Gamecube or whatever they are called) is the only option.

          As usual, what you really need for a succesful install of anything is...luck. So, take care of your Karma ;)

        • by Sark666 ( 756464 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @12:28PM (#15757689)
          Ok, I'm getting off topic and I've posted this before, but I guess a tad late and no one noticed. I'm reposting as the issue of games always comes up and I want to see what people think of this. The discussion was originally WoW on linux via wine...

          It would be a lot easier for them to port if all games were opengl. I remember way back when John Carmack had his open letter to microsoft on the merits of opengl. Unfortunately, it seems d3d (even though crap back then) has won out in the end. Not that it's better than opengl, it could be now, but that's beside the point. Microsoft saw how big gaming was getting and wanted to tie developers and as a result it's users to one platform.

          I think a turning point was the release of half life. Even though being a quake 1 engine game (don't start the q1/q2 halflive thing) it's default support was d3d. If valve stayed native opengl when that game exploded, we might have seen co's like ati get their act in gear a lot earlier with better opengl support. And potentially might have become a more attractive option for future developers.

          Glad carmack still codes for win,nix, os X just cause he thinks 'it's a good thing.' Too bad developers like him are far and few between.

          Consumers can kill something off like a plague when they are aware of the hardware/software tie in, like the death of the original divx hardware players, but when consumers (even tech savvy ones) don't think about it, or don't care what goes on behind the scenes, things like this happen.

          I can't really see it changing drastically now. You hear about the odd port from a company which is great but the only way a lot of games to be natively available on linux is for linux to all of a sudden gain huge market share (hopefully one day, but still a long ways off).

          If/when that time comes, developers would have to look at their development strategy, it will be a hassle to support d3d and opengl. So if they did see a market for both windows and linux they'd most likely consider opengl from the get go.

          So, it would be nice to at least have more developers using opengl now, so the option is there for a port, but again I can't see that happening. People would have to do something radical and boycott a game and state the reason is because it uses d3d which is enforcing the tie-in of games to only one platform.

          And just look at the moves microsoft can pull when they have this clout. Halo 2 being directx 10 only. Please... An xbox 1 port requiring the latest d3d. A strong arm tactic for vista if I ever saw one.

          So I'm going to add this, can we actually blame developers for the state of affairs of linux gaming? Should we hold them accountable? See the majority of people do not care about anything except (in this case) what's best for their company. I mentioned Carmack because someone should be recognized when they do something knowing it's not necessarily the profitable move, it's just that they think it's right.
    • Most of the blocked users I see complaining in Microsoft's WGA forum are using volume license keys.
  • Bigger man than I (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:44AM (#15756242) Homepage
    He certainly is a bigger man than I. I can say that I would have been as diplomatic in his situation. Then again, what are the chances of that.
    • by Dionysos Taltos ( 980090 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:55AM (#15756341)
      Look at it again ... I'm sure that's going to be a common refrain in this new era of untrusting software and companies. Ah well."

      That's not someone who's being a "bigger" person. That's resignation. That's yet another person who'll refuse to look at alternatives and will stick with Microsoft. Why? I don't know, I really don't ... and I find it scary.

      • That's not someone who's being a "bigger" person. That's resignation. That's yet another person who'll refuse to look at alternatives and will stick with Microsoft. Why? I don't know, I really don't ... and I find it scary.

        Maybe the alternatives don't need his needs (or wants) ?

        • And yet he's describing a software future he doesn't want, but "ah well". "Ah well" doesn't cut it with me. You know what would have made his piece true journalism? Investigation.

          What are his requirements on Windows? Are there other operating systems which meet those requirements? Do those operating systems have similar "ah well" behavior as Windows?

      • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:07AM (#15756439) Homepage Journal
        "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
        -=-Upton Sinclair
      • The second mistake was that WGA Notifications was also "phoning home" information to Microsoft on a regular basis. That's right: Not only was the software secretly installed on your PC, but it then regularly contacted Microsoft servers and provided them with data about the instances of pirated and nonpirated software out there. Customers and security experts reacted with alarm, as well they should: Microsoft had literally shipped spyware to its customers. Microsoft, meanwhile, reacted as they often do when

      • by Geccie ( 730389 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:17AM (#15756507)
        Its because this guy is a complete and total Lackey Wuss! He has a legitimate copy of a product and - from what I gather - is a journalistic outlet.

        He has an opportunity to voice the opinions and concerns of the people and instead chose to bend over and take one right in the arse!

        Thanks Paul and Fuck You very much!
      • by rbochan ( 827946 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:50AM (#15756780) Homepage
        That's yet another person who'll refuse to look at alternatives and will stick with Microsoft. Why? I don't know, I really don't ... and I find it scary.

        "The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."
        "Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."
        "I did," said Ford, "it is."
        "So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"
        "It honestly doesn't occur to them. They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates the government they want."
        "You mean they actually vote for the lizards."
        "Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."
        "But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"
        "Because if they didn't vote for a lizard, then the wrong lizard might get in."
                      --Douglas Adams, 'So Long and Thanks for All the Fish...'

      • by twistedsymphony ( 956982 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:09AM (#15756966) Homepage
        I can understand why he still sticks with Windows. It's probably similar to the reason I've stuck with Windows. I'm not a PC gamer. There's very few tasks I do in WinXP that I couldn't do in Linux (or a Mac OS at that). The problem is it's just too much damn work to get there. Sure Linux might be free but my time is just as valuable as money and the time cost required to make the switch to linux is more then what they charge for windows in $$s.

        I don't know anything about Linux... nothing at all. before I'd even get started I'd have to do research into what the best distribution for me is. before I even do that I need to find outlets online that I trust to provide me with a useful comparison of the different distributions as well as making sure it's up-to-date, unbiased, and complete.

        Then I'd need to determine if all of my hardware actually supports Linux. If it fails this test it's probably not even worth it. My 5 year old laptop isn't exactly upgradeable and My desktop's got fairly new hardware which I'm not too keen on replacing if I need to.

        If I get past the hardware hurdle then I'd need to do some research on how to install it. What new commands do I need to learn? how do I install hardware drivers (since they're not just plug and play like Windows where everything auto-magic-ly works). Is there a specific order I need to get my hardware up and running? What happens if I run into problems? I need to find places where can I get help. How do I get online to ask for help if Linux isn't up and running yet? Even if I have a 2nd computer how do I transfer data between the two if one doesn't have drivers for the communication outlets (NIC, CD, etc.) yet?

        Now that I get past installing it I need to completely re-learn all the quirks of the OS where settings are hidden, what the right click menus look like. Even if I can customize it THAT would take a considerable amount of time learning HOW to customize it.

        Now I need to find alternative software, Open Office instead of MS office, GIMP instead of Photoshop, etc. etc. etc. some are apparent others I'm not so sure. I do a whole lot of burning do they make Nero for Linux? what about video editing? I do that on occasion. What kind of Micro-controller tools are available or will I have to dual boot windows just to flash my pic chips and debug/compile my MCU code?

        Once I've found all my new software I need to re-learn how to use all of those programs. And even after all of that I STILL have to use Windows at work making those old habits really die hard.

        90% of the time Windows works fine for me. I've had fantastic up-time with XP SP2 (it's amazing how well your PC runs if you don't visit trashy web-sites and don't constantly install random garbage software). I know how to use Windows and I never have to worry about software or hardware compatibility. As long as there's a square hole for my square peg I just plug it in and it works, I don't even have to bother with drivers.

        There's no good reason for me to switch other then for the sake of switching. I'm not adverse to the proposal but it's a whole mountain of labor just to get to where I already am... Security is not a compelling reason, I have a strong (linux based) firewall and use Firefox instead of IE. I keep a virus scanner running regular checks. and I can't even remember the last time my PC crashed (I'm working on an uptime of about 32 days right now, and the last re-boot was because of a power outage).

        If I knew of a good resource to help someone like me; without any Linux knowledge at all, get up and running then I'd probably set aside some free time to at least ATTEMPT a dual boot... but as it is right now it's just too much work and without a compelling reason, not worth wasting my free time.

        After all of that it would seem going to Apple would be an easier option then Linux... but then I'd have to buy a new computer, one more expensive then the computer I already own (provided it has comparable power). And then the argument comes back again... why waste the $$ and time just to get back to where I already am?
        • download and burn the ubuntu live cd ( u ntu-6.06-desktop-i386.iso) and boot your pc and/or laptop with that. you'll soon see whether your hardware is detected. chances are it will all just automagically work. you'd be suprised to find that linux drivers (when available, which is more often than not) are way more plug and play then windows drivers. you dont have to install drivers, they are part of the kernel. (except when they're non GPL).

          if you are a home u

  • Doc Leaf (Score:4, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:44AM (#15756243) Homepage Journal
    You can remove the sting from WGA bites by wiping some doc leaves over your keyboard and mouse.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:45AM (#15756249)
    Nelson's Ha Ha!
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:46AM (#15756258)
    Didn't you know?
    You have to keep buying your Windows software every year or two in order to update it, how else is Microsoft going to stay the biggest software company in the world?
  • Microsoft to come up with a new piece of software that works flawlessly from day one.

    Anyway it's either another debacle of Microsoft (is this news? :) ), or [wears tinfoil hat] the guy is about to follow up on the story saying that he resolved the issue in no time and that WGA is not as bad as people are led to believe by anti M$ trolls.
    • by patrixmyth ( 167599 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:59AM (#15756378)
      Fixing the computers of friends and family, I've had occassion to call in to Microsoft on licensing issues quite a few times. They've always been tremendously helpful, non-judgemental and ready to listen. It's not a perfect system, but it's fairly well designed to handle false-positives and take care of mistakes fairly. It does put them at a competitive disadvantage in that I'd rather buy a product that didn't have activation and authentication, but that's their call to make. I have a problem with our government subsidizing enforcement, but what a private company does with it's own product is fair game, as long as they let me know about it before I buy it.
      • by KarmaMB84 ( 743001 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:10AM (#15756454)
        The one and only time I ever had to call, I was immediately accused of installing the software on too many machines. They were so quick to jump the gun on it, that I know damn well they couldn't have been actually looked at the history for the software since it had been activated ONCE on the EXACT same hardware on ONE machine almost a year prior.

        That is the ONE problem I have with Microsoft's software: they see pirates around every corner and their customers are criminals.
        • by johneee ( 626549 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:51AM (#15756791)
          Which is interesting because when I replaced the hard drive in my laptop, which required me to reactivate Windows for the gosh knows how many'th time (The machine and the software is 5 years old almost, I bought it used which meant it was activated at least twice before I bought it - once on the original purchase and once when it was wiped to be resold) the software didn't want to activate by itself since it said it had been activated too many times already. The conversation with the person on the phone went something like this:

          MS: Thank you for calling Microsoft, can I have the installation id that's on your screen?
          Me: (reads long number)
          MS: Thank you. (pause) Ok, how many machines has this been installed on? (You could read this as someone accusing me of piracy, but it's a pretty reasonable question when some people might not realise you're not supposed to install on numerous machines)
          Me: Just the one
          MS: And why do you need to reactivate?
          Me: Replaced the hard drive in my laptop.
          MS: Ok, I'm going to read out an activation number for you to put in the box, and you should be ok. (Gives me long number)

          Very polite, minimal questions, took less than 5 minutes, and it was at 11:30 at night on a Saturday.

          Now, it's fair enough to say that there might not be a real need for activation, that MS is being boneheaded by requiring it, or that they should be more trusting of their customers; these are all fair comments. It's also possible that you might have had a phone agent on a bad day. I just know from my experience that they've been always very very polite and if they err, it's on the side of permissiveness. I also assume that if I was hyper-sensitive and acted like a jerk, they might have been less polite to me. I would never suggest that was the case with you of course.

      • as long as they let me know about it before I buy it.

        ... and people wre not informed as to what WGA was, nor given the option of saying "don't want it."

        The best way to avoid it is to get rid of windows.

        The second-best way is to reinstall from scratch, disable product activation (reset5setup.exe - Reset 5.02), and update using AutoPatcher.

      • by db32 ( 862117 )
        1. You are lucky. When I called them about my wifes computer they basically told me "Go away you theif". When I explained that I have at least 3 valid XP licenses (I hate being forced to buy MS garbage on computers), she told me I would have to reinstall/reactivate. So...their only solution was "Sucks to be you...reinstall everything, haha!" Now this is also the same goon squad that I have called countless times, read off the CD number and they read me a working key over the phone...I wonder how many o
  • by andytrevino ( 943397 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:46AM (#15756263) Homepage
    at least Microsoft doesn't play favorites!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:47AM (#15756270)
    Like many people who will see these alerts, I don't believe I did anything wrong. I'm sure that's going to be a common refrain in this new era of untrusting software and companies.

    I will be royally pissed if I received one of these messages after spending hundreds of dollars on a software product. And if they disable the software beause they think it's pirated, they will lose me as a customer - forever.

    I can just see it now, businesses trying to get work done while dealing with those messages.

    • Yeah... way to slip in the rumor that WGA disables a PC it thinks is pirated. It does no such thing. It is by all standards very annoying to legitimate users (it has caused several problems with my network at work) but it doesn't go around "breaking" computers left and right, Paul's situation is the first time I have heard of a false positive (and I am sure we would hear about it). I hate having to deal with Microsoft products to do my job (not the products really but the "support" that comes with them)
    • My thoughts are similar to yours, except I'm hoping that they do screw up that badly.
  • by DeathKoil ( 413307 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:48AM (#15756273)
    I've had some problems with the new WGA that has gone out, and I find that it is only hurting and hindering legitimate users. People I know who are running Corporate or otherwise cracked editions are patiently waiting for a new crack for WGA, but legitimate end users are worried / concerned when the little alert pops up saying that their copy of Windows might not be legit. It has been my experience that if you are using a cracked / Volume / Corporate version of Windows, you know it, you ignore the messages, you wait for a crack. The legit users who see this message get scared. Therefore, I don't see WGA solving any of the problems MS intended it to.
    • by antic ( 29198 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:15AM (#15756488)
      Legitimate Windows users have to put up with WGA. Legitimate Adobe Creative Suite users have to put up with activation processes that are a pain in the butt if you have a deadline and needed to reinstall on a new laptop because your previous one died. Legitimate DVD purchases have to put up with hard or impossible to skip FBI warnings before the actual content, while pirated versions either physical or downloaded have nothing of the sort.

      How are they all getting it so very wrong?
    • It has been my experience that if you are using a cracked / Volume / Corporate version of Windows, you know it, you ignore the messages, you wait for a crack

      Yeah but what about all the people using cracked versions that don't know it. I imagine there's a TON. How many times do you install XP for a friend or something, and instead of telling them they need to cough up $XXX for an intangible license, you just install the cracked version.

      Sure the user is using illegal software, but you can really blame the

  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:48AM (#15756287)
    Apple, for example, does not burden users with Product Activation or any similar anti-piracy technologies in its Mac OS X operating system

    Hoo-ray for Apple
    • Except Apple sells hardware mostly. They also have hardware locks that stop you from installing OSX on anything but Apple hardware. If MS could get away with doing this they would scrap WGA in a heatbeat.
    • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:01AM (#15756390) Homepage Journal
      Um ... no.

      While it's true (and I'm damn glad) that Apple doesn't mess around with any "activation" crap per se, saying that they don't burden the user with any 'anti-piracy technologies' is a bit rich.

      After all, I have a $1500 hardware dongle sitting under by desk to prove it.

      Apple doesn't need any WGA-like stuff, because even if you pirate the OS (which, let's face it, happens all the time -- heck, you can dupe an OS X installation CD using tools provided with OS X), you can only run it on hardware purchased from Apple. Assuming they ratchet up the requirements accordingly every few years, they have a stream of income from you. Not as much as if you bought each version of the OS as it came out, but it's still something. Apparently, it's enough for them not to burden their users with onerous phone-home spyware.

      The biggest reasons why I wish the OSX86 Project people would just crawl under a rock and disappear, is that if OS X ever gets severely cracked to the point where an average user can install it on commodity hardware, I can almost guarantee that Apple will go the activation route. Sure, I'm sure they'll be a lot friendlier about it than Microsoft has, and the whining will be suitably mild (and they'll have lines of pundits defending them), but it'll be obnoxious just the same.
      • by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:32AM (#15756620) Journal
        ... and I still don't buy it.

        The argument that the machine is a "dongle" only works if it were true. It's not. I can purchase a copy of OSX Tiger and give it to any number of other Mac users to install on their machine, and Apple lose money. Sure, you *have* already bought a computer from them, and I'm sure Apple are happy about that, but to claim that it somehow restricts you from piracy is just wrong.

        Back when I were a young lad, I had an Atari XL (the first computer I ever had that came with a disk drive :-), there was a bloke ("Rob C", a postman actually, who my brother actually ended up working with for a while) who spent a lot of time cracking games and putting N of them on a disk with his name on the menu. Lots of disks made their way around the pirate scene. Did the XL somehow become a dongle, just because it wasn't a PC ?

        People operate within their communities, if there is the potential for theft within that community there will be some people who will take that opportunity. For the mac, the community is mac-owners, and the potential for piracy is just as valid within that community as for PC owners within theirs. The Mac community is smaller, true, but that doesn't matter when you're (ahem) "swapping" software.

        I just don't believe that spending $$$ on a computer entitles you to stop spending $ on software from the same company (can you tell I'm a reformed character :-). I must have spent ~$1200 on a mac, and ~$300 on OS so far. 25% is a significant chunk of cash just to assume the user will be "a good guy/gal", but that's what they do, and I (for one) appreciate it.

    • Uh huh. And how many Apple computers are sold with a stolen copy of OS X?
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:49AM (#15756294) Journal
    Like many people who will see these alerts, I don't believe I did anything wrong. I'm sure that's going to be a common refrain in this new era of untrusting software and companies. Ah well.

    Ah well?, Ah well? This is the extent of outrage in "this new era"?!? Amazing!

    • yep. suck it up or make the switch. either way you get exactly what you deserve.
    • by MarkByers ( 770551 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:55AM (#15756339) Homepage Journal
      Why would he be outraged? He is trying to sell Windows. He's trying to get people accustomed to the accusations that come from WGA. He's not trying to discourage them from using Windows altogether. It's his job to do this!
    • Well, that's the extent of Thurrott's outrage, sure.

      But this is a guy who's essentially made his career taking it up the rear from Microsoft and liking it. Or at least talking a lot about how much he likes it; one way or the other.

      To somebody like him, who's completely sold to hell and back on MSFT's wares, this sort of thing is just completely inevitable. There aren't any alternatives. This is the future, so lie back and think of America, friends!

      Luckily, not everyone thinks that way.
    • Do you want to see outrage? Microsoft should make a deal with ATI and NVidia as well as major game publishers so that the latest drivers and games for XP refuse to install unless WGA is present. The outraged squealing from the gaming community will deafen the planet.

      I mean, that IS coming with Vista anyway, but they could get a head start on finally killing off PC gaming for good.

  • Ob (Score:2, Funny)

    by MisterSquid ( 231834 )

    Looks like he's been Thurrottled. ba-DUM tish

  • by alphasubzero949 ( 945598 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:50AM (#15756300)
    Thurrott will still be ranting and raving about how much Windows is light years ahead of OS X and Linux.
    • Thurrott will still be ranting and raving about how much Windows is light years ahead of OS X and Linux.

      But it is! Windows has had product activation for years, and now they've come up with something even better. Apple has yet to give me any way to make sure that my copy of OS X is Genuine! Using my copy of OS X without knowing whether or not it's Genuine is nerve-wracking.

      And don't even get me started on those Linux people! ;)
  • A bit offtopic but (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lord_rob the only on ( 859100 ) <shiva3003&gmail,com> on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:50AM (#15756308)
    Imagine if Linux (or another alternative OS) did not exist, we would all be thinking that it is normal (or not ?) to get annoyances with our pirated (or not ?) version of the Microsoft operating system. I say "we", but in fact I should say "I". I'm just wondering if people will realise that there *is* an alternative to Windows and its DRM and its annoying "you are a pirate" attitude. I bet no, or at least not until a long time ... sad :/
    • by Kope ( 11702 )
      For many many people that simply is not true.

      Most companies of any size have at least one software package that performs some business critical function that requires Windows.

      Lots of home computer users own their computers to play games that aren't available for alternative OS's and which don't operate properly under WINE.
  • by Kope ( 11702 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:54AM (#15756323)
    ". . . I don't beleive I did anything wrong. I'm sure that's going to be a common refrain in this new era of untrusting software and companies. Ah well."

    No, not "ah well."

    Customers have a legitimate expectation to be treated as if they are wanted and valued not as if they are a threat to the enterprise for using the product they purchased.

    Companies that treat their customers as criminals instead of as their reason for being in business will find themselves at a severe competative disadvantage. Such actions will hurt companies who engage in them, in big and small ways.

    WGA has already resulted in several lawsuits. Those court proceedings are sapping resources from Microsoft. There is time being spent by developers and software architects in helping lawyers prepare court cases instead of doing the more important parts of their job. Those resources aren't being used to fix bugs, develop new features, or in any way serve current or future customers.

    That hurts the both the consumer and the stockholder.

    • You assume that Microsoft has real competition... I don't know the US definition, but around here they would qualify as "dominant market position" which means most customers have no *real* choice.

      Secondly, Microsoft has shown time and time again that it's great at drawing out long court battles into essentially nothing - at least in the US. The EU fine actually has a little teeth, but overall I get the impression it's eating up a lot more other resources - resources that could have worked for open standards
  • Thanks Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xfmr_expert ( 853170 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:54AM (#15756325)
    -Apple, for example, does not burden users with Product Activation or any similar anti-piracy technologies in its Mac OS X operating system- Now why the hell would they? OS X generally only runs on Apple hardware. So someone would have to buy an Apple computer (with OS included) to run the pirated copy.
  • by Tom ( 822 )
    Obviously, the dude is a lazy slacker. Otherwise, the fact that he can't use his machine (VM or not) to do his work would get more than a simple "Ah, well" from him.
  • by iritant ( 156271 ) <lear&ofcourseimright,com> on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:56AM (#15756350) Homepage
    I have no idea why WGA issued a warning either, but I can say that if it had anything to do with a version of something installed on a VM, you would think that's a pretty esoteric corner case that some developer should just live with.

    On the other hand, how many Microsoft systems are really all that vanilla these days? Perhaps the way WGA gets paid for is through Microsoft's 900 support number?
  • My appraisal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:56AM (#15756352)
    Honestly, with the number of false positives that WGA seems to be throwing up, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find that it's working exactly as it's supposed to. How many clueless users out there who received a legitimate copy of Windows with their machine are going to get these messages? Now how many of those same clueless users will then throw another couple hundred bucks at Microsoft to "become legitimate" (nevermind that they were legitimate before)? This just seems like yet another unethical move by a company who's shown that they have no problem being unethical (faking evidence in court anyone?)...
  • I bought a laptop last year, for personal use. One of the reasons I bought it, was that it came with a valid license for WinXP, which I expected to use on the thing. The laptop still has it's Windows XP certificate of authenticity sticker, with the product key printed on it. Is this WGA something I have to worry about? At what point does Microsoft decide that my purchased copy of XP (with the laptop I bought) is invalid or pirated? I think /. had an article last week about the Certificate of Authenticity is
  • This kind of stupidity is exactly why my OS of choice is now Linux. No WGA. No product activation. No problems.
  • by dolson ( 634094 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:03AM (#15756407) Homepage Journal
    Ubuntu users everywhere were jealous when they heard about how Microsoft Windows users get this kind of authenticity test, whereas Linux users have no such thing. Well, fret not! I have been hard at work programming the equivalent for Linux users. The first release I give you is UGA - the Ubuntu Genuine Advantage. (More versions for other distros coming soon.) Here are the steps to follow for Ubuntu users: 1) Hit Alt+F2. 2) Paste this into the text entry box: zenity --info --text "Your copy of Ubuntu is valid.\nThank you for not pirating it\!" 3) Click Run. Enjoy!
  • "Ah Well". "Ah Well"?! No, it's not "Ah Well"!

    Why is this man so stoically up with putting this insidious crap?

    (In fact, I don't use that silly operating system — so I don't know why I'm bitching...)

  • Outrage? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by novus ordo ( 843883 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:10AM (#15756456) Journal
    "So you think my money is counterfeit? I'm a counterfeiter as well?? You are sending me to jail for 40 years? Ah well."
  • Sometimes it seems to me that Microsoft is more of an abuse company than a software company. Software is just the delivery method for the abuse. The WGA patch that is causing problems for Paul Thurrott is labeled "Critical" on the Windows Update web site, and Microsoft admits it is beta software.

    How would you like to be a programmer for a company that apparently cannot get anything to work correctly the first time?

    After decades of good judgement about money, Warren Buffett [] has made the biggest mistake
  • I got the same alert on my Gatway laptop with the origional factory installed XP Home. I'm too cheap to use MS Office, so I use OpenOffice & other Openish type software. Suspiciously, the second time I rebooted after this "Update," I also found that a six month old 1 GB memory chip (that had been working properly) went bad. (As in can't boot to windows & a linux bootable cd memory test said the memory was fubared.)

    When I replaced the memory & reinstalled the system from the restore CD, well then the same copy of XPHome was just fine with WGA.

    Kudos Microsoft;)
  • by SvetBeard ( 922070 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:21AM (#15756532)
    and shoot it. We need to check for rabies!
  • []

    You can keep you system up2date without having to fire-up Windows Update.
  • Nice response (Score:3, Informative)

    by edmicman ( 830206 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:35AM (#15756644) Homepage Journal
    'Ah well'. I'm getting screwed over by a company whose products I paid money for. 'Ah well'. This is just another way it goes in day to day life, guess I'll just live with it. 'Ah well'. Who am I to question the way things are? 'Ah well'.
  • by Enrique1218 ( 603187 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:38AM (#15756664) Journal
    When are you Windows users ever going to learn? You guys are just like abused women who just can't seem to get out of the relationship. You may be financially dependent. Emotionally dependent (unusual). Physically (gaming, porn, gambling; even more weird). Microsoft doesn't trust you, manipulates you, gouges you, and neglects you! You need to ditch that guy! With Windows, you are not a user but just plain used! You need to give that artistic guy who always dresses good and seems to be gay a chance. Perhaps, you might like the geeky awkward guy who needs some work to bring him around!
  • by Frobozz0 ( 247160 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:45AM (#15756739)
    A significant number of people who did nothing wrong will be hassled by WGA, whereas the determined pirate will continue his illegal copying of Windows. At the end of the day, this is the outcome of any copy protection scheme-- those who were on the fence about copying, or don't have the technical knowledge about how to circumvent the protection, will perhaps pony up the cash for a legit copy. (Or, in this case, have a legit copy and still be harassed.) Those who would have paid will continue to pay, and those who would have copied will continue to copy.

    Maybe if Microsoft made the feature set crippled or mad Windows (Vista?) suck a lot less, this wouldn't be as much of a problem for them.
  • by Aqua_boy17 ( 962670 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:04AM (#15756917)
    This may be somewhat OT, but is anyone else sick to death of this? Welcome to the world of Corporate double-speak where:

    Small = Tall
    Medium = Grande
    Large = Venti

    So why in the world is it called "Windows Genuine Advantage" anyway when it's really just an anti-piracy detector? What conceivable "Advantage" is there for the consumer and why wasn't Windows Update just left well enough alone? I know Microsoft has a right to protect it's products but at least have the decency to call it what it is: Anti-Piracy validation.

    And before I get modded flamebait, I'm not particularly picking on MS or Starbucks here. I am trying to make the point that in many ways and in many different forms of media we are increasingly being conditioned to accept corporate and marketing double-speak that just does not make any sense. These are just the examples that came to mind first.
  • by rdmiller3 ( 29465 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:28AM (#15757148) Journal

    The article's author, while lamenting the fact that Microsoft has just accused him of a federal crime, simply responds with a sigh and a recommendation that we should all get used to the idea.

    "Ah well."

    EXCUSE ME?!? No.

    This guy has already decided to go with the lemming mentality. He figures that lots of people will have this problem, so why worry? That's what people thought about the RIAA's threats too, until the lawsuits started.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.